Tag: Austin Jackson

Austin Jackson to White Sox: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

Free-agent center fielder Austin Jackson signed a one-year contract on Sunday with the Chicago White Sox, confirmed MLB Roster Moves on Twitter.  

Jon Heyman of the MLB Network reported the deal is for $5 million. 

Jackson, 29, spent the first half of 2015 with the Seattle Mariners before being traded to the Chicago Cubs. He hit .267/.311/.385 with nine home runs and 48 RBI in 136 games.

He won’t bring power to the White Sox, but he will make up for that with a good glove in the outfield and above-average speed. He hit at least 10 triples in each of his first three seasons, leading the league twice. He’s also been successful on 106 of his 146 career stolen-base attempts.

The White Sox were 24th in MLB in both stolen bases and fielding percentage last season, while last year’s starting center fielder, Adam Eaton, was among the worst in baseball with a minus-1.1 defensive WAR, per ESPN.com.

Dan Szymborski of ESPN thinks Chicago made a good move by bringing in the center fielder:

Jackson broke into the league in 2010 with the Detroit Tigers and finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting behind Neftali Feliz. He was traded to the Mariners in 2014 before eventually joining the Cubs.

His average has dropped the past three years, as he has averaged .265 since 2013 after hitting .280 his first three seasons. Per Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com, Jackson has become a liability against right-handed pitchers, but it’s not time to give up on him:

At this point there’s no real reason to play Jackson against right-handed pitchers. They’ve chewed him up for years. Jackson has managed to hit .290/.345/.408 (113 OPS+) against lefties the last two seasons though, so he remains a viable platoon bat. Plus he still plays outstanding defense.

Jackson is still only 28 years [old], so he’s in what should be the prime years of his career. If nothing else, his defense and ability to hit lefties make him a quality fourth outfielder. He’s still young enough that he could get his career back on track and return to being an everyday player as well.

Jackson became expendable in Chicago after the Cubs signed free-agent outfielder Jason Heyward, who was with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2015.

Maybe a fresh start with the White Sox will help Jackson get back on track. He proved early in his career he can be consistent for a full season, and if that’s the case in 2016, this could turn out to be one baseball’s better offseason deals.

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Austin Jackson: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation Surrounding Free-Agent OF

Austin Jackson remains a free agent as teams swing into full gear at spring training. 

Continue for updates.

Jackson Reportedly Turned Down Angels’ Offer

Thursday, Feb. 25  

The Los Angeles Angels reportedly offered Jackson a one-year deal worth around $5 million to $6 million, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, citing a source. However, Jackson and his agent, Scott Boras, turned down the deal, seeking more money. 

Now the Angels appear set to ride with their current contingent until Opening Day, per Gonzalez. 

By acquiring Jackson at the rate reportedly offered, the Angels would’ve exceeded the $189 million luxury-tax mark, per Gonzalez, which they are currently below by $2 million to $3 million. 

It’s possible Jackson, a career center fielder, was also hesitant at the left field platoon role the Angels wanted him in alongside Daniel Nava and Craig Gentry, per Gonzalez. Without contributing as an everyday bat, Jackson wouldn’t have his value next offseason grow much.

The 29-year-old righty is a career .273/.333/.399 hitter who hits better against right-handed pitching, which would’ve made him an odd fit in Anaheim:

The Angels were criticized for not taking an aggressive approach to replace Josh Hamilton in left field while maintaining their belief they were postseason contenders. 

Gone are blue-chip free agents Jason Heyward, Alex Gordon, Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes, leaving the Halos with a pair of platoon players who struggled mightily in 2015. Jackson may not have been the answer, but Gentry and Nava are coming off seasons where they hit below .200 and played in a combined 86 games. 

With the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers each reaching the playoffs last year behind young talent, it’s hard to imagine the Angels emerging from the back of the pack in the American League West.

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Austin Jackson: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation Surrounding Free-Agent CF

Free-agent center fielder Austin Jackson is garnering interest from at least three major league clubs.

Continue for updates.

Jackson Getting Interest in Free Agency

Thursday, Jan. 21

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reported the Milwaukee Brewers, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels are interested in the athletic Jackson, who batted .267 in 2015.

Crasnick also speculated that the Chicago Cubs may consider signing Jackson “for the right price.”

The two-time American League leader in triples has played for three teams in his six-year career, spending four-and-a-half of those seasons with the Detroit Tigers.

Jackson has moved around during the last two trade deadlines. Detroit moved him to the Seattle Mariners in 2014, who sent him to the Cubs in 2015.

Known more for his glove than his bat, Jackson has seen his batting average drop since the Tigers traded him. He batted a career-best .300 in 2012 and hit .277 over the course of his tenure in Detroit, but his average dropped to .257 with the Mariners and .236 in 29 games with the Cubs.

Jackson had eight plate appearances during the Cubs’ playoff run but did not record a hit.

He’ll turn 29 years old Feb. 1 and is entering the prime of his career, so he could provide plenty of help in the outfield. He has a fielding percentage of .990 and has committed only 22 errors in his career.

The Rangers were in the mix for Justin Upton, per Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, before he signed a six-year deal with the Tigers, but their outfield has no need for a replacement with Josh Hamilton, Delino DeShields and Shin-Soo Choo in place. The Angels also seem to be set with Daniel Nava, Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout in their outfield.

Nava is 32, so Los Angeles could go younger and more athletic with Jackson in left field.

That leaves the two National League Central teams, and the Brewers may be the favorite. The Cubs just invested $184 million to lure Jason Heyward away from St. Louis, so their need for another outfielder isn’t as pressing. The Brewers have Khris Davis and Domingo Santana, along with Ryan Braun, patrolling the outfield, but they may need help in center field.

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Seattle Mariners: Signing Nelson Cruz Is a Start, but M’s Need More Hitters

The Seattle Mariners have reportedly signed Nelson Cruz. Yancen Pujols of the Dominican newspaper El Caribe reported the news, which was confirmed by ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick.

The former Rangers slugger will make his return to the American League West after a one-year hiatus in Baltimore, where he mashed 40 home runs and drove in 108 runs.

Cruz gives the Mariners a three-headed monster in the middle of the order that also features Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager. For manager Lloyd McClendon, it’s a poor man’s version of the trio (Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez) he coached in Detroit.

While not as fearsome as Detroit’s grouping, Seattle’s trio finally gives the M’s the complete set of sluggers they have been searching for.

The middle of the Mariners lineup is complete, but the batting order is far from it.

In terms of OPS, Seattle received below-average production from every position except second and third base—positions where Seager and Cano receive the lion’s share of at-bats. These low numbers should change in 2015.

First base and center field will be greatly improved with Logan Morrison and Austin Jackson, respectively, playing full seasons, while Cruz will solidify the designated hitter position. In addition, catcher and shortstop should see continued improvements from youngsters Mike Zunino and Chris Taylor.

That leaves the corner outfield spots as the only positions susceptible to change.

Seattle’s right fielders (namely Michael Saunders, Endy Chavez and Stefen Romero) ranked 17th in OPS in the league. Dustin Ackley received the majority of the at-bats in left field. Ackley and the Mariners’ other left fielders ranked 21st in OPS.  

It’s entirely possible that none of the previously mentioned four hitters will be in the Opening Day lineup in 2015.

According to Crasnick, the Mariners have reportedly shopped Saunders. In addition, Chavez is 36, and Romero hit .192 in 177 plate appearances.

At 26 years old, Ackley hasn’t lived up to the potential that made him the second overall pick. That, combined with Ackley’s ability to play multiple positions, makes him better suited as a utility player.

An outfielder like Yoenis Cespedes or Justin Upton would be an outstanding addition. But at this point, with a middle-of-the-order trio in place, Cespedes or Upton would be a costly luxury that would likely mean the loss of Taijuan Walker or James Paxton.

Seattle should be going after complementary bats in the mold of Jackson or Morrison—players who can fill out the top of the lineup card and, more importantly, the sixth through ninth spots in the order.

Cano, Cruz and Seager are fantastic, but someone has to hit between them and Zunino (who’ll likely hit toward the bottom of the lineup).

Players like Marlon Byrd, Alex Rios, Torii Hunter and Alejandro De Aza are all attainable, as is old friend Ichiro Suzuki. Melky Cabrera is another name to watch.

Cabrera finished 2014 with an .808 OPS, good for 33rd in all of baseball. His OPS was higher than potential teammate Seager, as well as established stars like Albert Pujols, Josh Donaldson, Adam Jones and Ryan Braun.

Hunter—who is looking at Seattle along with a handful of other teams, according to Mark Whicker of OCRegister.comwasn’t far behind Cabrera with a .765 OPS. Byrd posted a .757 OPS.  

The moral of the story here is that there are options out there for the M’s.

Signing Cruz is a start, but the Mariners need more hitters to fill out the lineup. Whether they accomplish the feat by trade (Byrd or potentially De Aza) or free agency (Hunter, Cabrera, et al.), the team will have plenty of attractive options.

Once this happens, the M’s offense will no longer be second fiddle to the team’s outstanding pitching. Once this happens, the M’s will finally experience October baseball.


All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Evaluating the Detroit Tigers Outfield for 2013

The Tigers upgraded their outfield defense and offense by signing Torii Hunter this offseason. However, they now have a glut of outfielders on their roster. The Tigers have to decide if they want to carry one or two extra outfielders.

This decision will shape the roster over the weeks leading up to spring training. It’s a safe bet that at least one if not two of last year’s outfielders will not be with the big-league team when they break spring training. 

I want to take a preliminary look at what we can expect from the Tigers outfield in 2013 and where the battles will take place. 

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Detroit Tigers: Credit for Austin Jackson’s Revival Should Go to Lloyd McClendon

January is a safe time to talk about baseball. There are no games on the schedule, no performances to track. The dead of winter makes a very comfortable backdrop against which to make declarations, bold predictions and lofty promises.

Few are the wintertime bon mots that get remembered much past spring training. Even fewer are those that actually come true.

The Tigers winter caravan was about to get into full swing last January. The annual tour through the state, designed to warm the hearts of the baseball fans and to attempt to break up winter’s cold and doldrums with an opportunity to wax about the National Pastime.

Nothing better than some baseball talk in mid-January to put the cold temps and chilled bones on hold, or at least in the background, if even momentarily.

As the caravan was about to rev up, there came a news item from Tiger Land.

Austin Jackson, the center fielder who just completed his pockmarked sophomore season, was the center of the news item.

Jackson was a riddle wrapped inside an enigma. He was the Churchill’s Russia of the Tigers. After two seasons, most followers of the team were scratching their heads.

He belonged on To Tell the Truth, playing the two impostors and the real guy, all by himself.

In 2010, his rookie year, Jackson batted .293. Even though he struck out a lot, he wasn’t out of place in a big league batter’s box. His fielding was exemplary, loping around in the majors’ vast center fields like a gazelle with a mitt.

In 2011, Jackson still patrolled center field like an Irish cop does the Bowery, but his hitting tailed off dramatically. The average sunk to .249 and the strikeouts became more viral—and less tolerable, thanks to the 44-point drop in his BA.

In the playoffs, Jackson batting leadoff seemed to help torpedo the Tigers more than helping them win. He seemed to be regressing as a big-league hitter, especially when the spotlight’s glare was brightest.

So that was the situation with Jackson when the January announcement came that hitting coach Lloyd McClendon was working with Jackson on the young hitter’s batting stance.

You could almost see the collective eyes of Tigers fans rolling.

If you’d like to get into a business where the adulation is rare and the bitching from the populace is constant, you might want to consider becoming a big league team’s hitting coach—that is, if you can’t make it to manager.

The slumps are all yours. And the success stories?

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the credit.

McClendon, we were told, had seen something he didn’t like with Jackson’s stance. Something caught on that new standby, videotape. Of course, it’s not even tape anymore—it’s all digital.

McClendon didn’t like Jackson’s high kick before the swing. There were other things, stuff that only hitting coaches see, and McClendon went to work on those, too.

Some of it, McClendon said he had tried to correct on the fly during the 2011 season. Clearly those fixes didn’t take; Jackson was a shell of the offensive player he displayed in 2010.

Last offseason, brilliant bloggers such as the one you’re reading right now suggested that Jackson was no longer suited for the Tigers’ leadoff role. We keyboard bangers declared Jackson and his .249 batting average were No. 9 material in the batting order, not No. 1.

I showed my genius by pushing for the Tigers to use Brennan Boesch at leadoff in 2012.

Of all the things that can make you smarter, a keyboard isn’t necessarily one of them.

So McClendon did his thing with Jackson’s mechanics, whether the fan base or the media or the wretched bloggers bought into it or not.

It’s been one of the most shameful parts of this rollercoaster 2012 season that McClendon has been given no credit—zero, zilch, nada—for the resurgence of Austin Jackson.

Jackson is even better than he was in 2010, when he burst onto the scene as the kid from the Yankees organization who would replace Curtis Granderson in center field for the Tigers, and who put together a season worthy of Rookie of the Year status.

This year, whatever McClendon did with Jackson has been Midas in nature.

Jackson still strikes out more than the average, but he is doing so less frequently, mainly because he’s cut down on swinging at pitches that aren’t strikes.

Sounds simple, but if hitting were simple, everyone would be Ted Williams.

The biggest improvement has been Jackson’s laying off the pitches high in the zone—pitches which ate him up nightly last year. Gone is the high leg kick, which McClendon suspected was throwing everything off in Jackson’s swing.

A baseball swing is not unlike a golf swing. The hitter moves more parts of his body than an exotic dancer during a businessman’s lunch.

Just like in golf, the baseball swing is a precision instrument of hips that either open or close too much, hands that either stay in or fly out, shoulders that are balanced or not, and eyes that either stay on the ball or don’t.

And that’s before the bat even makes contact with the baseball—if it does at all.

The result of McClendon’s tutoring of Jackson is that the Tigers have one of the premier center fielders in all of baseball. They have a triple threat at leadoff: a guy who can hit, hit for power and run. Jackson can take you deep or take you shallow. He can pull you down the line or shoot you up the gap.

Jackson is, simply, a complete hitter who is light years ahead of where most thought he’d be in 2012 after last year’s struggles.

Austin Jackson is the poster boy for the phrase, “Sometimes you have to take one step backward to take two steps forward.”

Think of that the next time a TV shot of Lloyd McClendon in the Tigers dugout causes you to hurl invectives.

But don’t worry—I’m not holding my breath.

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5 MVP Candidates Who Are Getting Paid Like Scrubs

It is certainly a bit of a misnomer to use the term “underpaid” when discussing professional baseball players. With a new league minimum salary of $480,000, even the sixth outfielder and the lefty specialist make more annually than the President of the United States. Make no mistake—if you’re talented enough to catch the eye of a big league team, you have the chance to become better paid than the majority of Americans. The league minimum is nothing to sneeze at, but the league average is a tick above $3 million—a paycheck most of us would be hard-pressed to complain about. 

Of course, all players—and all player contracts—are not created equal. They are frequently based on past performance and hope to approximate future performance, an inexact science at best. It is not uncommon for aging players to perform significantly worse in the final years of their contracts than they did when they first signed it, and every now and then you get players whose numbers take drastic and unexplained dips soon after signing mega-deals.

These so-called “albatross contracts” haunt the dreams of every major league GM, who want nothing less than to sign the next Dan Uggla ($13 million, batting .210), Bobby Abreu ($9 million, recently designated for assignment by the Dodgers) or Vernon Wells ($21 million for a whopping -.4 WAR per Fangraphs).

But on the other end of the spectrum are players who are playing well above their pay grade. These are mainly younger players who have yet to become arbitration eligible, but have already started to contribute in big ways to their big league club. For some of these players, the right break for their team in the playoff race could mean a big boost in their MVP candidacy (as we have seen in recent years, MVP voters very much factor team success into the spirit of the award). 

We can quantify the extent to which a player outperforms their paycheck by calculating their cost vs. performance score—the average MLB salary divided by the player’s salary, multiplied by the player’s WAR. 

Read on to find out which legitimate MVP candidates are being paid less than Jack Wilson.

All salary figures are courtesy of Baseball Player Salaries, and all batting stats are courtesy of Fangraphs.

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Quintin Berry: Detroit Tigers Fans Shouldn’t Get Carried Away

It’s not Quintin Berry’s fault that he’s not Austin Jackson, just as it’s not saccharin’s fault that it’s not sugar, not Dan Quayle’s fault that he’s not Jack Kennedy and not analog’s fault that it’s not digital.

Berry played the role of Jackson, the Tigers’ dynamic center fielder, for a couple weeks and the reviews were rather kind. Too kind, in fact.

Berry, 27, is on his fifth MLB organization with the Tigers. He’d never set foot on a big league diamond until the panic call went out a few weeks ago, the Tigers in Cleveland.

Jackson, in the third year of a career that has more upside than a room full of first-round draft picks, was being bothered by an abdominal strain. And if you’ve ever strained your abdomen, you know how painful that can be. And you’re not a starting center fielder who bats leadoff.

The Tigers, bereft of position players in their farm system that can actually play in the majors right now, sent for Berry, who was minding his business playing for the Toledo Mud Hens.

That’s how so many Tigers have started this season—as Mud Hens.

Berry wasn’t even Jackson’s understudy, per se. He was grabbed off the bargain rack by the Tigers over the winter, a body to assign to Toledo. His was a minor league contract.

It was like going to a Broadway play and not only is the star ailing, the replacement hadn’t even seen the script.

Berry was put in center field and penciled in to bat leadoff for the Tigers on May 23 in Cleveland. He didn’t even look like Austin Jackson: Berry is a beanpole who bats left-handed. Jackson is a buff, compact player who bats right.

The Tigers, though, were desperate and thus brazenly tried to pass Berry off as a suitable replacement for the bourgeoning star Jackson.

Berry then went out and did his best impersonation of Jackson over the next week or so. He slapped some hits around the park, made some fine catches in the field and didn’t embarrass himself, which was probably the best thing he did of all.

The reviews of Berry were kind because the expectations weren’t exactly high. It would have been difficult for Berry to disappoint, but quite easy for him to impress.

He was following Jackson, but not in the way that a rookie singer follows Sinatra on stage at the Sands in Las Vegas. In this case, Sinatra had laryngitis and the rookie crooner needed to only carry a tune for a few songs, trying not to have the audience members throw tomatoes at him.

The longer Berry stayed in the lineup, the more the mystified Tigers fan base, looking at the rest of the scuffling team with a sour puss, wanted Quintin to stay there—even after Jackson’s scheduled return.

Bench Brennan Boesch! Put Berry in right field!

Bench Delmon Young! Put Berry in left field!

The fans were beside themselves with ideas for what the Tigers could possibly do with Berry once Jackson returned to the lineup.

Then Jackson came off the disabled list last Saturday in Cincinnati, reclaimed center field and leadoff in one fell swoop, and in the five games since that’s happened, the Tigers were 4-1 in no small part because of Jackson’s bat, glove and mere presence.

Berry didn’t get returned to Toledo, but he didn’t return to playing, either. Not as a starter, anyway. And that, my friends, is exactly how it should be.

Berry moved Tigers fans for about 10 days, but let’s peel back a layer or two of skin away from his onion.

Berry bailed the Tigers out for a few games, no question, helping the team to tread water while their All-Star-caliber center fielder recuperated.

But Berry is no Austin Jackson. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, and nor has a crime been committed.

The highlight reel catches Berry made in center field looked pretty, but—and I don’t mean to tell tales out of school here—they were necessitated by his poor reads and circuitous routes to the baseball.

But he did make those catches, and for that we all should be grateful. Still, if you put Jackson and Berry in center field for separate teams for 150 games each, it will be very plain who the better outfielder is—and it won’t be Berry.

I haven’t come to bury Berry, but I haven’t come to overly praise him, either. He is a very fast player who is also very marginal. His speed mesmerizes the folks around town because the Tigers have been so bereft of it for decades.

Even the mainstream media—folks who should know better—are being sucked in by Berry Mania.

Just yesterday I heard my friend Jamie Samuelsen and partner Bob Wojnowski on 97.1 The Ticket bemoaning the lack of Berry in the Tigers lineup against the Colorado Rockies, even though a left-handed pitcher was on the mound.

Before Boesch’s bat heated up last week, there were calls for Berry to replace him. Young, also, was being run out of town by Berry maniacs.

Jackson is the straw that stirs the Tigers drink. I’ve said it before and, after the team’s resurgence after his return to the lineup, I’m saying it again. When Jackson is doing his thing at the top of the batting order, the Tigers offense is a different animal, plain and simple.

The Tigers’ fall to as many as six games below .500 ran concurrent to Jackson’s absence. This is no coincidence.

But in Detroit, we get enthralled by the scrappy, by the fast, by the underdog. I can still remember the cries for quarterback Mike McMahon when he played for the Lions as a backup—mainly because McMahon was mobile and ran around the backfield like a chicken with his head cut off. Certainly not for his passing skills.

Jackson, one of the premier center fielders in baseball, went down, and here came Berry, riding in from Toledo on what some people thought was a white horse.

Berry did his best at being Jackson’s stand-in. For a few games the Tigers got a lift from the journeyman. It didn’t hurt his standing that, at the time of his promotion, Boesch and Young were terrible.

But let’s not get carried away. Berry may not even be with the team come September. He might be long forgotten by then, as the Tigers, it is hoped, scramble for a playoff spot. Or, his speed alone may keep him on the roster. We’ll see.

Who will not be forgotten, who will not be a footnote to this season, is Jackson. And, I submit, Boesch and Young, when all is said and done.

Jackson has the potential to be the best all-around center fielder the Tigers have had since Al Kaline roamed there in the late-1950s.

No, I haven’t forgotten about Curtis Granderson.

Berry played his rear end off trying to give the Tigers Austin Jackson when they didn’t have Austin Jackson. For that he should be commended.

But not only is Berry no Jackson, he’s not even Boesch or Young.

Berry is who he is, and that’s OK.

Trouble is, too many fans believe him to be something that he’s not, and that kind of thinking never leads to anything good.

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Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2012: Hunter Pence and Sluggers Ready to Explode

With the 2012 MLB season just a few weeks away, it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty of the fantasy baseball sleepers for this season.

This piece will discuss the top three sleeper sluggers that fantasy owners can wait a few rounds longer on and still reap the rewards.

All of the following MLB stars will have stellar 2012 seasons, so feel free to grab them as late as physically possible.


Hunter Pence

The Philadelphia Phillies are starting the season down two men, with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both nursing injuries that could cost them extended periods of the 2012 season.

With that said, they need Hunter Pence to deliver an MVP-quality season. That’s exactly what he will do in his first full season in Phillies pinstripes. Fantasy owners should be scooping Pence up early.

After putting up a stellar .324 batting average with 11 home runs and 34 RBI in just 54 games with the Phillies last season, Pence will look to shock the world and become the Phillies’ go-to guy.


Austin Jackson

After a superb rookie season in 2010, Detroit Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson had a mediocre 2011 that saw him bat .249 and strike out 181 times.

With the addition of a slugger like Prince Fielder to an already talented offensive bunch, Jackson should see more quality pitches to hit this season. No doubt teams will want to face the center fielder instead of Fielder or Cabrera.

If you can wait until the later rounds to snag him, that’s your best bet. If he starts getting talked about in the middle rounds, take him and reap the fantasy benefits.


Cameron Maybin

After already bouncing around in his short MLB career, it’s time for 24-year-old outfielder Cameron Maybin to have the breakout season everyone wants from him.

In 2011, his first season with the San Diego Padres, Maybin made a huge mark, with 82 runs scored and 40 stolen bases. If he can continue to build confidence in a lineup that offers little help offensively, he will be a great mid-round fantasy steal.

While there is plenty of risk, as there is nobody in the Padres lineup to prevent pitchers from pitching around Maybin, his base-stealing ability will discourage much of that.


Check back for more on the Major League Baseball as it comes, and check out Bleacher Report’s MLB Page to get your fill of all things baseball.

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Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2012: Detroit Tigers You Must Have on Your Roster

The Detroit Tigers will be the best team in baseball in 2012, so if you’re looking for fantasy baseball sleepers, they are probably a good roster to check out.

Superstars like Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are given fantasy studs, but they aren’t the only players on this roster that put up big numbers.

Catcher Alex Avila had a breakout year last season with a .295 batting average, 19 home runs, 82 RBI and .389 OBP, so he’s going to be a fantasy favorite.

And then there are the pitchers. With Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Jose Valverde being the big-name arms, the Tigers pitching staff is obviously jam packed with must-have arms.

Who will be the sleepers on this year’s team, though?

Once you get to the later rounds of your draft, you will need to have player or two that can produce big numbers at a good value.

I’d keep an eye on these two Tigers for the sleeper pick role:


Brennan Boesch:

Do you remember when Boesch had that exceptional start to his rookie season and absolutely looked like a stud?

This kid’s got one of the nicest left-handed swings you’ll ever see in the MLB, and he’s full of raw potential and talent. The problem with Boesch is his consistency, and he missed the playoffs last year with a thumb injury.

There have got to be questions about how he’ll bounce back, but I’m confident in the young left-hander. He can only get better with both Cabrera and Fielder in the lineup, and he’s going to get better pitches to look at.

Expect a big year out of Boesch.


Austin Jackson:

Jackson ran into somewhat of a sophomore slump last season, only batting .249 with 10 homers, 45 RBI and a .317 OBP.

He definitely had his struggles from the plate, but some of his slide may have come from the exceptional rookie season he had and the expectations that were placed on him.

He doesn’t need to be the team’s star anymore, he just needs to play his role, continue to dominate the outfield and get on base.

Without that pressure, I expect to see a free-swinging and very efficient player this summer.

He’s the perfect fantasy sleeper candidate.


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